GPT07 - Laguna Dial
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- 2022-01-17 to 2022-01-24 | Veronika & Jo | GPT07 RR SOBO
Termas El Médano -> Carrizales (2 days) -> Rio Maule -> Laguna del Dial -> El Inglés (3 days)
Greatly enjoyed this section, which took us seven proper hiking days to complete.
We started at 19:00 at Termas El Médano because the only bus at Talca left at 15:00. Hiked the 11 km of tarmac and camped on the river bank next to 115, about 1 km beyond section 1 (S 35° 52.736', W 070° 40.119', courtesy of iOverlander).
At the end of the third section (around S 35° 57.665', W 070° 38.836') we could not find the path on the northern scree and rock slopes. Instead, we switched to the southern valley flank about a hundred meters before the actual switch, fording the small stream easily and following cow trails until we were back on the path. Found a decent camp site (S 35° 52.736', W 070° 40.119') after the first puesto on the mountain plains.
From about 10 km before Carrizales, all water and accompanying meadows are fenced in. If you plan to camp before Carrizales, turn back the moment you see fences appear on the side of the road. At the end of a long day, we asked the shop owner in Carrizales if she knew a good spot, and she let us camp on one of their fields (with accompanying barking dogs ;). Still, muchas gracias!
The hot springs after Carrizales were the best so far and definitely worth the detour. Señora Irma sold us fresh cheese, tomatoes, bread and coke, even though we happened upon her puesto in the middle of celebrating January 20th - either in the honor of San Sebastian or a victory in the war between Chile and Peru-Bolivia - with friends and family. Thanks again!
Laguna del Dial was gorgeous and great to swim in. We camped right at the start of the lake (S 36° 25.533', W 070° 55.101') where the water had sufficiently retreated to leave room for one tent. After the lake, we had the impression of taking an arriero highway, encountering plenty of horseback riders, most of them arrieros. For us, it was often hard to understand their dialect, given that we're very novice Spanish speakers. Still, got to see a glimpse of the way these modern day cowboys live.
The first bridge you encounter (sobo, around S 36° 33.547', W 071° 10.798') is rickety and unusable. Hence the second smaller bridge a bit further upstream, which I only found out about after fording the river :D
The bus at El Inglés to San Fabián left at 7:00 and 10:00 in the morning. At the bridge, the river bank opposite to the shop has some smaller streams pouring into the river, making this the relatively nicer side to camp (though there's plenty of garbage on both sides, despite the signs requesting not to litter). Some Chilean campers showed us the streams, thanks once again!
In San Fabián, stayed at Cabañas Anfer Domos for 35.000 CLP per night for two. Cabañas Nativas and Hostal El Molino were both full.
- Start Date: December 30, 2019
- Section: GPT 07 Southbound
- Duration: 6 Days
- Name/Alias: Ian Hikes + Tobias
- Overview: Just want to say quick that the termas vapaors in Mèdano are worth checking out, I highly recommend them. Please consider checking them out, they are only ½ km off the trail and absolutely worth it. They are sauna boxes built around a few hot rocks emitting hot steam. The result is a steam room/ sauna experience. I personally spend over 4 hours chilling out in the steam rooms.
- After a 2-hour road walk on the side of the highway you make your way back on trial. This section takes you thru many areas used for grazing livestock with puestos in sight almost all the time. Carizales a small settlement right on trail has a small store and the family also sells bread. There was also a puesto that sold us fresh goat cheese and Coca Cola. It is marked as a waypoint on the GPX file about 20km south of Carizales. Much of the trail is very dry and exposed and the landscape is void of trees and vegetation. There are many great places to jump into the river and cool off. The section up and around the lake offers great views of the mountains, volcanoes nearby and Laguna Dial. The trail itself is well established and never had any real trouble navigation. There were also quite a few hot springs on trail or close by.
- Difficulties: Hot and Exposed (especially in summertime). Resupply Distance.
- Highlights: Hot springs. Great sweeping views. Pools of cool water to jump into in the middle of the day.
- Please feel free to reach out and ask me any questions at Ultratrailca@gmail.com
- 2020-Jan-17/ Bruno and Martin / Regular Route Southbound
7.5 days for this great section. We resupplied in el Médano and continued with the section. Just enough variety. Highly recomend eating harina tostada, a vital meal for the arrieros, nutritious and practical. Be minded tha in our camping ground in El Médano there were only three hours of electricity a day, may be hard to recharge. Regular trail was easy to follow, except on mountain pastures where is also likely to get your feet wet. Bought some food in Carrizales. Passed through the welcoming puesto of señora Irma for some eggs, bread and cheese. Irma te manda saludos Jan! Laguna Dial is amazing and we stayed one day fishing, resting and swiming in Lake Camp -2. We were invited for some mate and tortas by a local arriero.The Rio Gonzalez valley is a complete change of scenery, with forests which we enjoyed very much. Resupplying in San Fabián.
After talking with the carabineros in San Fabián, we were told that we would not be allowed to pass through the RR near Volcán Chillán, in the last comisaria in El Roble, due to current volcanic risk. Trying instead an optional start further south, in Termas de Chillán. Maybe for next hikers it would be ok, but better to ask anyway.
- 2020-Jan-3 / Maddie & Tom / Regular Route Southbound
5 days. Starting at El Medano, hiking the regular route southbound towards El Ingles. 11km in we encountered a gate to get onto the trail with private property signs. However no one was there so we walked in without difficulty by walking around the fence (it was late Christmas Day however so it could have been quiter than normal). In general a nice route however when the track descends into cow pastures it gets very boggy and the track sometimes disappears. We did not think there were any dangerous spots. To resupply at the end of the section we took a bus in the morning from Los Sauces (10am) to San Fabian. We caught the same bus back at 1pm. Great selection of cheap food in the local ‘mountain’ supermarket and overall a good town for resupply options. It had methylated spirits for cooking but the bottle did not state the concentration. I suspect around 70%.
- 2019- Dec - 29/ Tyler & America / Optional start at Cruze de Melao then RR Sobo / 8 Days
We took our sweet time through this section. The optional start helped...as we were able to hitch all the way up to the RR at Carizales. (Bus from Talca @3, 2000 CP each) Hot springs near Carizales were warm & awesome. Two nice little tubs. We took our time and had a great time with all the arrieros along the way. Irma sells beer, wine, and delicious cheese. Other arrieros will welcome you in and treat you like family as well...so be sure to leave them with whatever you feel fit in return. All river crossings good, be diligent on filtering throughout this entire section. Dog at El Ingles shop bit me, so be careful with that. We camped down by the river for free. Bus leaves at 7:00 and 10:00 to San Fabian, and amazingly friendly town. We got a 1 bed Cabin at Cabanas Nativa for 30,000/N total. Pool, private bath & kitchen, ok WiFi, welcoming people. Fine town for re supply.
- 2019-Dec-18 / Lea Geibel & Kevin Moe / Optional/Exploration Route around Laguna del Maule / 4 days /
After finishing section 5 we only had 4 days left before the end of our hiking time, so we decided to do some exploring in the area instead of following the regular route of section 7. We followed the main road to the Laguna del Maule where we roughly went in a loop around the Laguna (~60km) starting at the Chilean Border Control. We checked in with the border control and informed them about our plans (that involved to not cross into Argentina but stay in Chile, just behind the Border Control). It was no problem for them, we just had to go through the Border Control again on our way back to have our backpacks checked for food. The water level of the laguna is very low and walking along the shore is mostly easy travel on sand/pumice, however, sometimes can be rather rocky and tedious. We climbed up some of the 3000 meter peaks around the Laguna (that mark the border with Argentina), each of them offering beautiful views on the area. There are several beautiful hidden lagunas higher up in glaciers that are well worth exploring. We never followed any particular route but just headed cross country to whichever place we fancied, which is very easy in the open, sandy terrain. The Southern end of the Laguna has many flamingos living in it, the East shore is mostly untouched by humans and the east side has some puestos and fishermen (mostly on weekends and close to the roads) but we didn't see anyone around. Around the Laguna there is a very strong thermal wind that picks up during the day but dies down/weakens a lot during the nights. Highlights: all the views, swimming in laguna, lava fields flowing into the laguna, flamingos, numerous obsidian fields, empanadas de queso at the bistro right next to the border control (only open on weekends)
- 2019-Dec-24 / Martina & Ivo / Regular Route Southbound
7 days for this awesome section. Absolutely agree with all of Matus & Anna's remarks :-) We went to San Fabian (excellent resupply place) for some days off.
- 2019-Dec-24 / Matus & Anna / Regular route SOBO
This section took us 5 days. Trail was in good conditon. River crossings were not a problem but plenty of water everywhere. In tienda in Carizales you can buy pasta, tuna, cola, beer some cookies. We bought huge chunk of cheese and some bread from Irma. It was amazing. Tienda in El Ingles is not best for resupply. We saw some tunas and pasta, but it was not enough for us to buy for next section. There is one more tienda down the road in Los Sauces but it was closed with no one around. We took bus to San Carlos which is leaving at 7am. We didn't find accomodation in El Ingles but it's possible to camp just before the bridge on the right side of the road.
07/02/20 - Arnaud - Gpt section 7 6 days, North to South Great section, easy to walk, nice people met on the way. After 11km, we leave the road with a minor road in a private property (zona geotermica). After discussion with the guard, he let us pass by the rio, and not by the porton (to join the road 400m further) because the access on the road is prohibited... ;-) Then the uphill is easy until the top. Possible resupply in Carizales with elia, whose welcome with half a sandia was perfect (pasta, atun, frutas y verduras, harina tostada but no gas). Laguna del Dial is great to have some rest. Don't hesitate to plan to spend some time there. It seems to be a good spot to fish. With the state of the volcan chillan, we decided to skip the section 8 and have some rest in San Fabian. From los Sauces to San Fabian, the micro leaves at 11pm only. We stayed by the Anfer Domos of Edgardo Lopez (+56 9 630 91 627), which is a great place to have some rest (a little far from the centre (1km), but he lends bikes if necessary), cabañas Nativa were full.
- 12 Jan 2020 Frank RR Southbound. 5 long days from KM11.
No access problem as you leave main road @ KM11, just go left around the fenced area & you will find a small track that leads up to the dirt road. Termas El Medano is last stop for bus but you can hitch first 11K. Don't expect much from shop in Carizales, contents listed by Matus are all she has. Irma, about a 1 day walk beyond Carizales has cheese, drinks in 2L bottles & sometimes bread. At Puesto 9 before Puesto Irma, fresh cold water comes up from the ground into a small pool, safe to drink without filtering. There is an arreiro living there so talk to him first. Very hot in Guaiquivilo Valley & as you go round Laguna Dial. Little shade in the valley & virtually none @ Laguna Dial. Spectacular trail down canyon on last day. You cross the river 8 times. Dogs @ Puente Ingles shop attacked me & if I didn't have a stick would have been bitten also. Camped down by Puente Ingles bridge but it's noisy on weekends & lots of horseflies. 2 buses out from Puente Ingles around 7 & 7:50AM
|GPT07: Laguna Dial||Hiking||Packrafting|
|Group||B: Zona Arrieros||Total||155.5 km||49 h||153.3 km||47 h|
|Region||Chile: Maule (VII) & Bío Bío (VIII)||Trails (TL)||126.9 km||81.6%||115.4 km||75.3%|
|Start||La Mina (Termas del Médano)||Minor Roads (MR)||5.4 km||3.5%||5.4 km||3.5%|
|Finish||Puente Ingles||Primary Roads (PR)||11.3 km||7.3%||11.3 km||7.4%|
|Status||Published & Verified||Cross-Country (CC)||11.9 km||7.7%||12.2 km||8.0%|
|Traversable||Jan - Mar (Maybe: Dec, Apr)||Bush-Bashing (BB)||-||-||-||-|
|Connects to||GPT06, GPT08||Investigation (I)||-||-||-||-|
|Options||714 km (8 Options & Variants)||Exploration (EXP)||-||-||-||-|
|Hiking||Packrafting||Total on Water||9.0 km||5.9%|
|Attraction||4 (of 5)||4 (of 5)||River (RI)||-||-|
|Difficulty||3 (of 5)||3 (of 5)||Lake (LK)||9.0 km||5.9%|
|Direction||Both ↓↑||Both ↓↑||Fjord (FJ)||-||-|
|Character||Forest, Alpine Terrain, Hot Springs, Mountain Pastures, Arrieros|
|Challenges||Demanding River Fords, Exposure to Elements, Resupply Distance|
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Recommended Travel Period
Benefits of Hiking and Packrafting
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Section Length and Travel Duration
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This section of the Greater Patagonian Trail leads in four to five hiking days through the wide open valley Melado to the crystal clear Laguna Dial. This lake was formed by a volcanic eruption that plugged the upper valley and transformed this part of the river into a long lake.
With the melting snow in spring and early summer herdsmen migrate up the valley with their animals. Occasional lush green patches intermingle with vegetation that struggles with the dry soil. But the now visible life and the accompanying river Melado make a refreshing change after having crossed the death beauty of volcanic ash and lava in the week before on section 6. Don’t miss the puesto of Señora Irma, where you can eat fresh goat cheese with bread that was recently baked in the hot ash of a fire.
After having passed the deep blue Laguna Dial you descend through the now tighter but equally scenic valleys of the rivers Rió Rodriguez and Los Sauces to the small settlement Pichi Rincon and a place called El Ingles. Here you can take a bus to the small town San Fabian to take a rest and to resupply.
Services: ATM and Money Exchange
Accommodation: Hostals and Hotels
Transport: Ground Transport
Transport: Shipping Services
Resupply on the Trail
Location, Names, Available Items and Services
Access to Route and Return
Access to Start
Bus Talca - Termas El Medano
07:00, 12:30,15:00, 18:45
from Terminal Talca
Return from Finish
Bus from Puente Ingles around 7 & 7:50AM. Confirm times @ the shop.